CLWYD SOUTH AM KEN SKATES has called on the UK Government to look beyond its Heathrow “obsession” and open up airport capacity outside London.
The Labour AM said the debate about the future growth of airport capacity had focused too heavily on a possible third runway at Heathrow and that the growth of capacity in Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool should be examined as an alternative.
Raising the issue with the First Minister on Tuesday the AM said the economy of North Wales needed better access to domestic and business flights in the Midlands and the North West of England.
CLWYD SOUTH AM KEN SKATES, who is also a member of the Assembly’s Enterprise and Business Committee, said:
“Increasing airport capacity outside of London would greatly benefit regional economies across the UK that badly need a boost in these tough times. Unfortunately the debate has centred almost exclusively on the possibility of a third runway at Heathrow as no other alternative options exist.
“An economy like ours in North Wales, if it is to benefit from a policy of airport expansion, needs much better access to domestic and passenger flights in areas like the Midlands and the North West.
“Opening up spare capacity in Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool John Lennon airports would be a much better use of resources and help direct millions of pounds of inward investment to areas outside London. If the Conservative-led Government are serious in their desire to re-balance the UK economy then they should be giving this serious consideration.
“We are seeing a massive and vitally important investment in rail infrastructure projects like HS2 and I commend the government on this. However it makes less sense and provides less value for money if we go back to believing that when it comes to airport policy, Heathrow expansion is the only show in town.
“In Wales much of the debate has focused on Cardiff Airport. Whilst expansion of our capital’s airport is vitally important, it must also be accompanied by recognition that it isn’t the most important airport for the North Wales economy.”
The First Minister said the future of Anglesey airport was a priority for the Welsh Government and that they would look to have airport policy devolved.